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Making Magic In Glass Boxes

Aquascaping with Nicolas Guillerman

How to Trim Stem Plants
Experimenting with Low Tech Methods
Creating Depth and Perspective
Do-It-Yourself ADA Stand Tips

MAY 2008
MAY 2008 AquaScaping World

Letter from the Editor

Inside our May Issue

In every issue we like to include aquascaping guides and tutorials to
help you improve your aquascaping skills. Great aquascapes will often
feel like they can go on forever. This month we take a look at how to
create depth and perspective in planted aquariums to get that effect
through plant selection, good layouts, and photography techniques. This
discussion pairs well with another article that explores trimming
techniques that can refine your plants and scapes.
With summer around the corner, our do-it-yourselfers will enjoy reading
tips on creating their own ADA aquarium stand. Making your planted
aquarium look good is one thing, but to completing the look of the entire
aquarium setup sometimes it takes some handy work. Learn to build a
stand that matches your aquarium and house dcor.
Last but certainly not least, our Aquascape in Focus features Andre
Cardosos Pasodoble. His aquascape is a great example of how a
well trimmed aquascape can capture natures beauty in a glass box. As
youll find out in the article, creating such an aquascape isnt always an
easy task.
Have fun with your aquascaping adventures this month!

John Nguyen
Editor in Chief
AquaScaping World Magazine

AquaScaping World MAY 2008



Introduction for the third issue of AquaScaping World Magazine.
By John Nguyen


A look at photography techniques, planting tips, and fauna choices to make
your aquascape look larger then it is.
By Tom Messenger


Find out how to get that bushy effect that you may have seen in Dutch
Scapes. Get plants to grow the way you want them to
By Roy Deki



A aquarium stand is one of the most important pieces of your aquascape and
home dcor. You dont have to spend hundreds for a stand though. Make a
replica ADA stand for yourself.
By Kristoffer Willerslev Jorgensen



Nicolas Guillermo his aquascapes and his perspective on the key to
designing great planted aquariums.
By Nicolas Guillermo



A hobbyist experiments with these two low tech style of planted aquarium
keeping. See which one works for him.
By Aziz Dhanani



This month features an interview with budding aquascaper Andre Cardoso
and his Pasodoble aquascape.



Discover how dissolved organic compounds effect a planted aquarium.
Understanding this important element can help you fight off algae and get
your aquarium off on the right foot.
By Cecil Griffith

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World

Creating Depth
Perspective in an A

AquaScaping World MAY 2008

Make your aquascape appear

larger then it is.

h and

I am going explain the principle of

perspective, a very important
consideration to take into account
when aquascaping an aquarium.
demonstrating these principles I
have used photos of my own
aquaria. There are a number of
ways to give your aquascape
perspective. I will explain how to
create depth and perspective

By Tom Messenger

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World

The hardscape of my aquascape, At Forests Gate illustrates the extent to which the substrate was sloped to achieve a greater illusion of depth/.

Substrate Positioning
Before you even begin to
aquascape the aquarium, you
can create a sense of depth and
perspective using only the
substrate. By sloping the
substrate towards the back of the
aquarium, you immediately give
the impression that the tank is
deeper than it really is.
Sand paths through the
centre of the tank are popular,
and can greatly increase the
perspective of the aquascape.
The path should start out wide at
the front of the aquarium, and get
progressively narrower the further
back it goes. This gives the
impression of the path
disappearing into the distance.
An excellent example can be
found in Peter Kirwans iwagumi
feature in the April 2008 issue.

AquaScaping World MAY 2008

Choose the Right Plants

Small leaved plants are
very effective at making an
aquascape seem larger than it
really is. In the past, I have had
several people say my
aquascapes always appear larger
then they are. They assume my
tank was 60cm or even larger. In
actually the dimensions of the
tank are mere 40cm (25l).
The trick is to use variety
of small leaf plants that take up
very little retail space in your
aquascape. Place them in small
groups. As these aquatic plants
grow they will form a very dense
and lush bush, without making
the scape appear heavy or overly
done. Plants such as Xmas
Moss, Riccia, and Mayacca are
excellent species to use because
of their fine leave structures.

Fish to Fit Your Scape

The use of small fish such
as Microrasboras (Boraras spp.)
can really finish off a small
aquarium. A school of 10 in a 25
litre aquarium can look
impressive, and are well suited to
the smaller aquaria.
In larger tanks, say 60
litres plus, schools of Tetras or
Rasboras can have a similar
effect. Larger fish such as Discus
are best only kept for large
aquaria, as they can force the
aquarium appear smaller and can
seem overpowering to a degree,
distracting attention from the allimportant aquascape.

(Top) Fine leaf plants make this aquascape look large in its small space
(Middle) Photo Shot at a 70mm focal length, lack of depth captured
(Bottom) Photo Shot at a much wider angle to emphasize the perspective

The way you photograph
your aquarium can greatly
influence its appearance or
perspective. The pictures of my
newly set up tank both show the
same aquascape, at the same
point in time. The only difference
is, the latter has been shot at a
much wider focal length. This
increases the aquascapes
apparent perspective in the
aquascape in the wider photo
(right) appears to shrink into the
distance, whereas the other
photo (left) seems flat, and twodimensional.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World

Trimming Stem
Get your plants to grow
the way you want them

AquaScaping World MAY 2008

wondered how some
beautiful bushy type
stem plants that help refine the
scape? In this article I hope to
help you achieve this look.
Different stem plants grow
at different rates and maintaining
these can seem like too much
work. Faster growing stem plants
will over power and shadow the
slower growing stem plants.
Proper trimming techniques are a
vital part of maintaining a scape
for a longer period of time.

By Roy Deki

The Bushy Affect

One thing to remember is
to start with as many stems as
possible, this will ultimately help
create the bushy affect more
easily and quicker. After the
initial planting, all plants will go
through an acclimation period or
more simply put, the plant is in
shock. Once recovering from this
the stem will start to produce
roots and you will see new
growth at the top of each stem.
As the stem continues to
grow you will notice that the best
part of the plant will always be
the tips. Let the plants grow to
the water surface trimming only
the stems that seem to out race
all the others to the surface.
Once the majority of stems are
just below the water surface you
can do the first mass trimming.
MAY 2008 AquaScaping World

Before trimming this mound style aquascape.

Notice the angle that the scissors are held. The Micranthemum umbrosum is being trimmed to conform to the other two stem plants in the background.


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

The shaping of plants is complete and now its time to wait for the new tips to form. Although the stems have been trimmed the over all balance of this
scape has not been compromised.

This first trim should be

done at about 3-4, (depending
on the entire depth of your tank)
from the substrate. Most stems
plants, when trimmed will send
out two new stems at the nearest
node just below the cut. Now,
you will almost have twice as
many stems as you had when
initially planted. It is important to
know that you have just removed
most of the plant mass in your
tank, thus re-adjust your co2 and
fertilizing doses accordingly.
When the trimmed stems
have re-grown new tips, let them
continue to grow another 4-5.
Once this has been achieved
your next trimming will consist of
two parts. The first is to make
your second trim about 2 above
the initial trimming, where you
once had one stem, before the
initial trimming you should now
have two. Trim the two stems
and the plant will continue to
double the amount of stems.
Second is to trim the plant in your
desired shape. This is important

for refining and to help create

depth and flow in your
Once this has been done
your next trimmings should
always be done by following the
desired shape that you are trying
to achieve. Do not be afraid to
trim unwanted stems that seem
to grow faster than the rest, even
if it means you have to get your
arm wet just to trim one or two
stems. Remember the best part
of your plant will always be the
tips, with this in mind, shape your
plant to include tips that are very
low in order to hide the bare
stems of your plant.
The Natural Look
As mentioned above,
manicured bushes seem to help
create flow in your aquascape
but, I prefer the more natural
appearance. To achieve this look
it requires just as much trimming
but seems to be more tedious.
Once the first trimming and
second trimming process of

shaping the plant is complete,

from there you will only
selectively trim from here on out.
Trimming only the faster growing
stems slightly below the masses
will help maintain the overall
shape but, will not create such a
manicured look. This technique
requires you to monitor your plant
growth less frequent than the
more manicured look. Although
the entire mass of stems will
continue to grow, at some point in
time you will have to repeat the
second trimming method.
Here is a list of a few stem plants
that are easily trimmed to achieve
the shaped bushy affect.
Rotala sp. green
Rotala rotundifolia
Ludwigia arcuata
Ludwigia brevipes
Note these are mostly smaller
leaf type plants.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Tips Creating
A Professional AD


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

DA Stand

By Kristoffer Willerslev Jrgensen

ust like when building a

house or any solid
construction you need a
good foundation.
aquarium setup is no different. It
requires a strong stand to support
the tank and to keep all the
equipment hidden. When we
chose a stand we usually first
consider size, cost and then lastly
we consider the appearance of
our stand. We do not have wide
selection of stands to choose
from though. It could be due to
the high price tag, availability or
simply the significant other not
wanting us spending the money.
So what are we to do?
We must attempt a do-ityourself project to make our
stand resemble what we want our
whole setup to look like. Stands
which do not match our tanks and
light fixtures do not offer a very
complete aesthetic feel. As we
design the stand, we must try to
match it to our tank setup and
house dcor.
My aquarium setup
included a 60x30x36cm rimless
OptiWhite tank and aluminum T5
pendent. All kept minimalistic and
somewhat anonymous so they do
not draw attention away from my
aquascape. So if you plan on
having the same minimalist style
like the one we know from the
ADA range of equipment, I hope
this article can help you reach
your goal.
Remember, a stand is the

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


1. Stand Assembly
Assemble the pieces of wood with dowels, glue and screws. The inside is covered with plastic foil
which saves a lot of work and gives me a good surface for the inside.
When you assemble the stand, bear in mind how the stand will be stressed by the weight it will
hold. You need to select the right type of wood. A stand in this size can be made in 16mm
(Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF fiberboard). This wood is very easy to cut and has a lot of

2. Work as the Glue to Dries

When connecting the pieces together, use a water based glue with a short drying time at
approximately 1 hour. Not only will this allow you to apply and spread the glue evenly before it
begins to dry, it also dries fast enough where you can route the edges soon after.
I recommend save timing by working on different sides of the stand at once. You can route the
laminate at one place, while another piece is drying.
3. Use a Router
A router using a bit with a bearing is a necessity for trimming the laminate nicely. Its very fast and
easy to use. Cover the area with masking tape to avoid marks and use a firm steady hand. It is
essential that you take your time to avoid any mistakes.

foundation of the whole setup.

The big surface has a tendency
to draw attention and can
negatively impact your
aquascape. Avoid bright colors
and strong contrast to the walls
and floor. Your aquascape
should be the primary focus;
not the stand, the tank or any
other piece of equipment.
I prefer the minimalistic
look and a light grey color that
matches the wood and white
walls of my apartment.
Using Laminate
I was lucky to find some
drawings which were based on
the ADA design. I used these
as a starting point for my stand.
Instead of painting the stand, I
then decided to cover it with
laminate to avoid the

AquaScaping World MAY 2008

4. Detailed Areas
Use a jigsaw and the router with a straight bit to make the detail holes for the hoses. The inside
edge can also be covered with laminate to complete the look of your aquarium stand

tremendous amount of work it

would take to get the large
surfaces of the stand painted
evenly. I had never worked with
laminate and the drawings did
not take this into account.
Laminate is hard and
has a strong surface with a nice
finish. It is found in numerous
colors and finishes, and can be
chosen to match your taste.
I got in touch with a very
nice guy that worked at a
laminate workshop. He told me
shortly how to work with it and
also supplied me with laminate
in return for some glassware for
I cannot stress out how
important forums are when you
need help with your DIY stand
project. Ask before you buy or
do anything. Get it all planned

and ask around if someone can

help you with materials or just
good advice. Any DIY project
should not end out to be more
expensive or giving a result that
you are not satisfied with.
I had my father-in-law
supply and cut the wood I
needed. This made the parts of
the stand (wood and laminate)
almost free. All I needed was to
assemble it, make some holes
for wires and hoses, cover it
with laminate, trim it and
done Sounds easy? It was!
I highly recommend
anyone to try to build their own
stand if they have the right tools
and can get the materials very
cheap. In the end, you may
have created something better
than anything seen at a store.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Aquascaping with
Nicolas Guille

By Nicolas Guillermin


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

There is a bright future ahead
for aquascaping. In the last few
years, there has been a huge
evolution in planted aquariums.
Each year brings in new high
quality aquascapes, and we
can see more personal styles
emerging among aquascapers.
People are more attracted to
this hobby than ever, and the
passion continues to engulf our
I am French but I have
been living in Japan for the past
10 years. I am relatively new to
aquascaping world. I started
doing planted tanks about two
years ago after I discover
Takashi Amanos aquascapes.
I do my best to keep up to a
high level and learn more about
the different elements of
planted aquariums. I will try to
do some more original
creations in the future, but for
now I have learned a great
deal from my aquascaping

Aquascaping from a new


Aquascaping Inspiration
I think everyone should
reach deep into their minds and
use their imagination to create
their aquascapes. Feel free to
do whatever you like.
Aquascapes do not have to
follow standards or rules. As
different as your own vision
may be, we must remember
aquascaping is an art where
one can express freely their
own vision of nature.
MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Nature like this landscape in Japan offers

boundless inspiration

You can find a wealth of

inspiration on the internet, as
well as get advice on your
scapes. No one should be
ashamed to show their
aquascapes even if its the first
one you have ever created.
You can learn from the peoples
comments and advice.
Aquascaping Styles
Although I admire
biotopes aquariums and 'Dutch
Style' aquascapes, I am mostly
aquariums" as it is this
particularly style that turned me
to planted tanks, and


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

aquariums in general.
since I moved to Japan, I have
been fascinated with traditional
Japanese gardens, and since
the Nature Aquarium Style
aquascapes) has many roots in
composition I was naturally
drawn to this style.
The Nature Aquarium
Style contains a certain amount
of freedom that allows an
aquascaper to build on the
basic principles. As a spectator
and as a creator these
aquascapes leaves a lot of
room for imagination. Though
there are few rules should not
be broken, it seems nearly
anything can be created with
simple things such as plants,
wood, and stones (I particularly
love aquascaping with stones).
Even though I try to
forget them, some aquascapes
I see on the internet impact my
imagination a great deal when I
try to create a new scape.
They unconsciously influence
me a lot. I have been trying to
create some "classic nature
aquarium" scapes and "classic
Iwagumi" scapes. I now want
to do something more personal,
and try to find my own style
which should show in my future
I look to get inspiration
more from nature nowadays. I
am very lucky to live in a
beautiful area in Japan,
(Kansai district). I often go in
the mountains to take pictures,
collect rocks, and take in the
ambiance of nature. I try to take
everything I absorb from my
nature excursion and place
them into my aquascapes.
Fertilization and Maintenance
I do a quick check everyday of
my tanks. Fertilizing usually
depends a particular tank and
the plant growth. I usually do a
30% weekly water change and

Keep balance in mind when deciding on the

combination of plants, rocks and fish.

add fertilizers to compensate

the flush of nutrients.
Plant trimming usually
also depends on the scape and
plant density, style, and
plantation. I usually do a big
trim every 2 to 3 weeks for the
most heavily planted tanks,
more rarely for the Iwagumi
scapes such as my 240 liter 'In
Lucem Sanctam' which has
never been trimmed.
I try to keep my
aquascapes as simple as
possible. The trick is to use a
small number of plant varieties
in a certain scape. I also use
less and less red or orange
stem plants as they can be
picky growers. I like to play with
the "nuances" of green plants
which can create beautiful
contrasts in a very simple way.
Plant Combinations
I like several varieties of plants,
and instead of choosing a
favorite plant I like to think of
plants that work well in
combination like Lilaeopsis +
crypts, and glosso+riccia.
Combination of plants offer
more textures and color

contrasts that can make an

aquascape more interesting.
Complementary Fish
Fish add to an aquascape in a
unique way. I think of them as
a way to complement the scape
by using their colors, shapes,
and specific swimming
behaviors. Here again, I tend to
use simple fish species that will
blend into the landscape rather
than stand out as center pieces.
I want to give the impression
these fish belong naturally in
the aquascape.
Overcoming Algae
I am quite lucky and do
not have many algae problems.
I think it is important to get a
well balanced and stable tank
to keep algae away. Easier
said then done, I know. But I
recommend starting slowly with
the lights (in intensity and
Watch the plants
carefully for any signs of
nutrient deficiencies.
loves to take advantage of
weak and dying plants, so its
important to maintain healthy

plants. Once you get to a

certain stability, try not to do
any drastic changes like
altering your CO2, lights and
fertilizing routine.
A rigorous maintenance
schedule and a good
knowledge of your fertilizers
and the needs of your plants is
the best way to avoid algae.
Sketching Before You Start
Sketching is a great tool to use
to build your imagination and
creativity. I sketch a lot of
nature scenes or imaginary
scenes and usually this is how
my scapes start .
Sketching gives me a
general view of the result I am
expecting when I begin to
It saves a painted
picture of my imagination such
as how I expect my hardscape
to look with the rocks and
wood. It will not show the exact
placement of the materials in a
scape, but shows how they will
associate with either other.
The same goes with
sketching plants. I am able to
see how the plants will look in
general with each other, and
MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


how they can potentially fit into

the hardscape. It gives me a
clear idea on where should be
the most contrasted areas
The point of sketching is not to
have an exact view of the final
result of your scape but to
have a good lead that allows
you to avoid some mistakes
and guides you while you start
the tank .
Here are some sketches
of an idea I was thinking about
for my 240 Liters tank. They
show a imaginary scene with a
few different attempts with

AquaScaping World MAY 2008

background plants and a few

landscapes from a place that
inspire me a lot recently.
Aquascaping Beauty
My first tank (sonata) was
maybe the most original and
personal as I was influenced by
many different things. The asian
style that I have just discoved,
and not fully explored yet is all
around me here in Japan. It is a
very exciting experience. The
dutch style is still popular
among the forums I used to visit
in France, and has its own

All aquascapes are

interesting no matter what style
you chose. Each of my
aquascapes have elements I like
about them, and reflects a
different moment of my
progression as an aquascaper.

Classic Nature Aquarium

Dimensions: 60x30x36 cm
Volume: 60 liters
Light: 2x18 watts ADA NA-Lamps
Photoperiod: 11 hours
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia II, Powersand, Bacter 100, clear super, Tourmaline BC, Penac W
Filtration: Eheim 2213
Fertilizer: Step 2, Bright K, ECA, Phyton-Git, Green Gain
CO2: Pressurized, Micropearler 3 bubbles per second

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


In Lucem Sanctam
Dimensions: 120x45x45 cm
Volume: 240 liters
Light: 8x18 watts ADA NA-Lamps
Photoperiod: 11 hours
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia, Powersand, Bacter 100, clear super, Tourmaline BC
Filtration: Eheim 2028, Eheim 1048
Fertilizer: Step 2, Bright K, ECA, Phyton-Git, Green Gain
CO2: Pressurized, Micropearler 3 bubbles per second


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Dimensions: 120x45x45 cm
Volume: 240 liters
Light: 8x18 watts ADA NA-Lamps
Photoperiod: 11 hours
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia, Powersand, Bacter 100, clear super, Tourmaline BC
Filtration: Eheim 2028, Eheim 1048
Fertilizer: Step 2, Bright K, ECA, Phyton-Git, Green Gain
CO2: Pressurized, Micropearler 3 bubbles per second


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Classic Iwagumi
Dimensions: 60x30x36 cm
Volume: 60 liters
Light: 2x18 watts ADA NA-Lamps
Photoperiod: 11 hours
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia II, Powersand, Bacter 100, clear super, Tourmaline BC, Penac W
Filtration: Eheim 2213
Fertilizer: Step 2, Bright K, ECA, Phyton-Git, Green Gain
CO2: Pressurized, Micropearler 3 bubbles per second


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

Dimensions: 30x30x40 cm
Volume: 36 liters
Light: 13 watts 8000k
Photoperiod: 11 hours
Substrate: ADA Aquasoil Amazonia
Filtration: Eheim 2232
Fertilizer: none
CO2: none

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Diana Walstads El N
Tom Barrs Low Tec
By Aziz Dhanani



AquaScaping World MAY 2008


ch Setup

A hobbyist shares his experiences

rying both methods

his article reflects my

efforts to set up a 5
gallon hex low light,
maintenance, and non c02
injected tank. I will experiment
and share my experiences with
these three different methods:
High light with DIY CO2 and

Seachem Fluorite
Diana Walstads El Natural

Aquarium setups using

potting soil
Tom Barrs low tech, non
CO2 setups
High light with DIY CO2 and
Seachem Fluorite Setup
I first attempted to make this
hex tank a high light (30 watts)
tank with DIY c02 injection and
Seachem Fluorite (regular)
substrate. This was met with
failure, I believe largely due to
overheating issues.
The water turned a
never ending brown color, the
plants pretty much decayed,
and all the fauna in the
aquarium ( African Dwarf Frog,
Cherry Shrimp, and Otocinclus
perished. No amount of water
changes resolved the issue.
I tore the tank down and
started a new setup as a 5
gallon Natural Planted Tank
(NPT) as per Diana Walstad's
El Natural Method which
recommends using top soil
capped with pea gravel. When
I created this NPT, I also set up
a 5 gallon rectangular tank as
per Tom Barr's low light, non
C02 method. Both tanks were
set up on November 7 2007
MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


and the differences that I

observed between these two
tanks as the months passed
were remarkable.
El Natural Planted Tank
First, lets talk about the
NPT hex tank. The plants did
not die or grow much within the
first 2-3 months.
after this time period, I saw a
rapid deterioration of plant
growth, and fish and shrimp
deaths like I had never seen. I
tried to prevent the fish and
plant deaths by increasing the
frequency of water changes,
removing decaying plant
matter, adding new plants,
using carbon in the filter, and
reducing feeding but nothing
seemed to work. Ammonia and
nitrite levels tested zero.
Tom Barrs Low Tech Method
Things progressed quite
differently in my Tom Barr 5
gallon low tech tank. The 2
Amano Shrimp tripled in size,
while the Otocinclus and Dwarf
Aquatic Frog appeared to be
healthy and active. The plants
show new growth each day.
Left with a 5 gallon hex tank in
which nothing would survive,
including plants I had little
choice but to dismantle the
This left me with 2
options. (1) to sell the tank, or
(2) to redo the tank. As I had
space in my home,
I chose to redo the tank
using Tom Barr's Method as I
had the most success with the
method. For the record, I would
like to state that I have the
utmost respect for Diana
Walstad and I am just sharing
my experience with her method.
I am not in anyway suggesting
that people should avoid the
Many people who
have set up natural planted
tank methods have had a lot of
success and
Diana's book,
Ecology Of The Planted

AquaScaping World MAY 2008





The Setup with the Tom Barr

Low Tech Method
With a method chosen, I have
redone my 5 gallon Marineland
Hexagon tank and setup it up
on March 4, 2008 following
Tom Barrs low tech
The filter was a simply
Biowheel filtration system with
Polyfloss over a pantyhose
containing a tablespoon of
Seachem Purigen (to be
replaced monthly) as the
I cheated here a little bit by
adding a thin layer of Schultz
Aquatic soil and overlaying that
with a thin layer of leonardite,
peat moss, and crushed
Seachem fertilizer tab pieces. I
capped this with about 1 of
Seachem Onyx sand and
capped the Seachem Onyx
Sand with a thin 1/4 of pool
filter sand. I planned to keep
some Peppered Cory catfish
and I felt that they would enjoy
the layer of pool filter sand
because it would be softer on
their sensitive barbells.
I used Seachem
Fertilizer Tablet pieces
further enrich the substrate.
The reason for using a thin
layer of Schultz Aquatic soil
was to see if it would help with
faster bacterial colonization of
the substrate in much the same
way that a layer of power sand
under ADA Aqua Soil is
supposed to do.

Lighting and Photo period

The tank was initially setup
using a screw in 6400 K 14 watt
compact fluorescent bulb with 8
hour straight photoperiod. With

the appearance of diatom algae

one month after the tank was
set up, I decided to change the
light bulb to a screw in 6500K
15 watt compact fluorescent
I also switched to a split
photoperiod with the lights
coming on at 10:30 A.M to 3:30
P.M., off from 3:30 P.M. To
5:30 P.M, and on again from
5:30 P.M. To 9:30 P.M (total 9
hours of lighting). I switched to
the split photoperiod as I had
the most success with this.
Fertilizer Dosing
I used limited amounts of
fertilizers, and dosed about
once per week. A pinch of
Equilibrium plus a teaspoon
of Yamato Green trace element
supplement with weekly 50%
water changes. I also dosed
the tank with 50 CC's of
Seachem Flourish Excel to
provide the plants a carbon
The Plant Species I used were:
Asian Ambulia (Limnophila
sessiliflora), Onion Plant
(crinumthaianum, 2 dwarf lily
bulbs( Nymphaea zenkeri) fully
sprouted, Red Cryptocorne
Wendtii, Java Fern, Dwarf sag
(Sagittaria subulata), and
Anubias nana. I chose these
plants as they were the ones
that I had previously had the
most success with.
A zebra danio was added to the
tank when it was setup to cycle
the tank. After approximately 3
weeks when ammonia and
nitrite levels tested zero and the
tank appeared cycled, an
Otocinclus was added to help
resolve a diatom algae
problem. A week after that, two
cherry shrimp were added. I

wanted to add Amano Shrimp as

I found them to be hardier than
cherry shrimp, but I was unable
to find a local supplier of Amano
Shrimp, so I opted to add the
cherry shrimp instead.
My Results
Diatom algae materialized 3
weeks after the tank was setup.
Fortunately, the Otocinclus that
was added to the tank at that
time made short work of the
algae. To date, the onion plant is
growing really well. It is shooting
off roots above the surface as I
did not plant it deep enough
when I set up the tank.
dwarf lilies were shooting out new
leaves almost weekly and I was
forced to trim the leaves to
prevent them from blocking out
light. This is why the leaves are
not visible in the picture. The

bulbs are hidden in the

background and out of sight.
Hopefully as new smaller
leaves shoot out that don't need
to be trimmed, they will become
more visible.
The Asian amublia had
also grown considerably but
some stems were still showing
residual diatom algae on
rosette tips, and the diatom
algae was giving the rosette
tips a yellowish to brownish
The dwarf sag
completely melted, which was
considering that it is flourishing
in the rectangular 5 gallon Tom
Barr type low tech tank.
Also surprising was the
growth of the Anubias nana.
While it was not dieing the tips
or the plant leaves were
How this tank

progresses overtime is anyone's

Below is a picture of what
the tank looks like. This was the
best picture that I could take and
I apologize to readers ahead of
time for my poor camera and
picture taking skills. As far as the
aquascape of aesthetics of the
tank, the scapes appearance
took a backseat to the primary
goal of setting up a tank that
would support and promote
healthy fish/shrimp and plants, so
I make no apologies for that.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Aquascape In F


AquaScaping World MAY 2008


An Interview
with Andre Cardoso
This month we interviewed up and coming aquascaper Andre Cardoso.. Despite being a young
aquascaper, Cardoso has an amazing ability to capture the beauty of nature in his glass boxes.
His aquascape "Pasodoble" illustrates his attention to detail and fine trimming techniques.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Q: Tell us about yourself.

How did you get into planted
A: My name is Andr Cardoso,
Im 17 years old and I live in
Lisbon, Portugal. I always loved
Nature and the world that
surrounds us, I love sports and
photography. My favorite
hobbies are football, surfing
and of course, aquariums.
Since I was young, I remember
my father having an aquarium, I
guess he was the one who
taught me this passion.
I started about an year
ago, with only one aquarium,
with 20 liters it was simple but
sweet. Then I got another one
and another and things got a
little bit more serious.
Q: Tell us more about your
feature aquascape. Where did
the inspiration come from?
A: The inspiration for my
aquascape came from looking
at an aquascape from the ADA
2007 Aquascaping Contest. I
loved the colors, the shape and
the fact that it was like a piece
of nature captured and placed
in the aquarium. Everything
seem to fitted perfectly. I
decided I had to try one of my

Five months ago, I

started doing what we here, in
Portugal, call experiencias com
o layout which stands for
layout experiments. I got some
local rocks and rearranged
them until I got something I was
fond of. It took about 4 months
to look just how it looks now. I
have to say I did not encounter
a major algae problem like I
was expecting because my tank
was a high tech layout. I think
water change and C02
additions were my big helpers
this time.
Q: Whats uniquely different
about this layout from
previous ones youve done?
Pasodoble, mean for this
A: With this aquarium I started
to use HQI illumination. That
was why this aquarium was so
special to me. I had never used
it before, but have to say I am
extremely pleased with the
The title of the aquarium
was inspired by Spanish music
called Pasodoble.
It is
famous in bullfights and since
here, in Portugal, we bullfights
are a tradition. I thought it
would be nice to name my

An ADA 2007 Aquascape seen to the right inspired Andre

Cardosos Pasodoble aquascape.


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

newest creation Pasodoble.

Q: With so
many stem
plants, it must take a lot of
regular maintenance to keep
it looking in top shape. How
do you do it?
A: I have to confess this
aquarium requires a lot of time
and patience. That is the
primary reason why I am about
to disassemble it and start a
new layout. I have to fertilize
every single day, not only with
K and P but also with micro
nutrients (specially iron). C02
is injected 24/7, a 6 Kg bottle
with a glass type diffuser. Water
changes are always performed
in Sunday but I also have to
replace some water that
evaporates during the week
due to the warm temperatures
in Portugal.
Trimmings are frequent
too; Rotalas grow very quickly
as well as riccia, so, I have to
trim almost every week. It takes
a great deal of time to maintain
an aquascape. Something most
people forget or dont know
about initially.
Q: You

said earlier that you

have many algae
despite the high
used in the layout.

Hardscape arrangement for Pasodoble on a substrate

bed of Akadama Special.

Initial planting stages of stem plants in the background,

and Riccia around the rocks. HC foreground is planted in
thin patches to allow even growth as it spreads across the

How did you manage that?

A: Fortunately I did not
experienced any major algae
problem. Some BBA appeared
but were quickly gone (about 2
weeks). I think it all has to do with
water changing and fertilization.
As soon as you understand your
aquarium, what it needs, and
when it needs it, you are almost
half way to a successfully algaefree aquarium.

The other ingredient is

patience. Sometimes it is the
best method to solving an algae
problem. You have to let the
aquarium find its balance, and it
will find it much more quicker if
you do not do any drastic
changes. We must remember
an aquarium is never 100% free
of algae. In fact, some algae
can tell that you have a healthy
fish tank.

Q: One of the hardest things to

chose for a layout are the
plants and fish species. Why
did you chose the selection
that you did?
A: The plants will depend on
your taste. I prefer plants with
small leaves, but I like plants like
Anubias and microsorium as well.
It is a matter of what suits the
scape and what does not. It is
important to planning the layout
before you start. Look at different
aquascapes and decide which
plant combinations look good and
go from there.
In a second phase (not
less important) you will choose
the fish; the fish will complete
your aquarium. I prefer small fish
that travel in group. For this
aquarium I chose Rasbora and
some ottos to help with the
cleaning. The fishs color is also
important because it will
complete the layout by adding a
flash of color.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Within a month, the plants have filled in the

aquascape and formed gracefully around
the rocks.

aquascaping technique.
A: The hardscape arrangement
will depend on what material
you have available. Wood and
rocks will have a different
approach then an all-plant
layout. Trimmings will also
depend on what kind of layout
you are trying to reach. What
kind of image or picture do you
want your aquarium to have. I
often play with trimmings so I
can reach a scape I like.
aquascape, when do
decide to take it down?


A: An aquascape reaches its

climax when all plants and fish
are as one. Much like in a
landscape where everything is
where it is meant to.
Sometimes too, I can get tired
and think that the layout has
nothing more to give, and do
not want to spend as much time
as I had previously done. That
is when you know it is time to
take it down.

AquaScaping World MAY 2008

Q: Many newcomers to the

hobby have a hard time
aquascaping. How easy is it
to aquascape?
A: Aquascaping isnt as hard
as it seems. I remember, when
I first started, I looked into
aquariums and thought to
myself I will someday have
something like that. I have still
much to learn but what I know
now is all thanks to the help I
got from people with more
experience than me.
Aquascaping isnt
something you are born with.
This artistic skill is something
y o u ac h i e v e o nl y w i th
experience and time. I would
say that the biggest challenge
for any aquarium lover would
be time and money spent
getting and maintaining a
planted aquarium.
Q: Where do you see the
aquascaping hobby going in
the next 10 years?

A: Aquascaping will certainly

continue to rise, new methods
and ideas of what an aquarium
should look like will continue to
come. I think, at least I hope so,
new and better ways to
maintain an aquarium will
appear. The planted aquarium
era has just begun.

Dimensions: 800x400x400 mm
Volume: 128 liters
Light: 1xHQI 150 watts 6500 Kelvins
Photoperiod: 10 hours
Substrate: JBL Aquabasis,
Micro-granulated Micro Elements,
Akadama Special 30 Liters
Filtration: Fluval 203 with 11 watt UV filter
Fertilizer: Step 2, Bright K, ECA, Phyton-Git, Green Gain
CO2: Pressurized, glass diffuser at 1 bubbles per second

Hemianthus callitrichoides
Rotala sp "green"
Rotala rotundifolia
Hemianthus micranthemoides
Anubia nana "petite"
Rotalla walichi
Riccia Fluitans
Caridina japonica
Red Cherry Shrimp

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World


Organic Compounds
By Cecil Griffith


AquaScaping World MAY 2008

f youre like most planted

aquarium owners, you
want a healthy algae free
aquarium. You dose
fertilizers regularly and make
sure you dont over do the
lighting, but you still manage to
have some problems when it
comes to fish and plant health.
Understanding dissolved
organic compounds and how
they effect your planted
aquarium will help you sustain a
enriching environment for your
aquatic plants and fish.

What is a dissolved organic

An organic compound is
any compound that contains
one or more atoms of carbon.
Natural waters, freshwater
aquariums and saltwater
aquariums contain a great
variety of soluble organic
compounds. These include
such compounds as sugars,
fatty acids, humic acids,
tannins, vitamins, amino acids,
proteins and urea. Suspended
organic matter in water includes
remains of organisms in various
stages of decay and living
phytoplankton, zooplankton,
fungi and bacteria. Sometimes
each of the concentrations of
individual organic compounds is
not measured. Instead it is
more common to measure total
particulate organic matter,
biochemical oxygen demand, or
chemical oxygen demand.
These variables are indicative
of the total quantity of organic
matter in water.
So where do they come
The major source of
dissolved organics in aquaria is
the natural biological processes

that accompany having a tank

full of fish that are fed often.
Fish feed, fish wastes and other
particulate organic material are
colonized by bacteria which
break the material down into
dissolved substances. The
basic step is for particulate
carbon to become dissolved
carbon. More fish and more fish
feed means a higher
concentration of organic
How to control excess
There are many ways to
control the amount of organic
carbon in your system.
Remember, there are two
general types of organic
material: particulate and
dissolved. There are ways to
remove both from your
First, limit the amount of
particulate carbon in your
aquarium. This does not mean
reducing the number of fish in
the tank or reducing the feeding
amount (but these would surely
help). It means cleaning the
mechanical filter component of
your filtration systems often.
The filter pad is where
a majority of the particulate
material will get trapped. If your
system is heavily stocked you
might have to clean this every
couple of days but the reward
will be worth it. Organic material
trapped on the filter pad is of no
benefit to the aquarium
environment - remove it often.
Some people use charcoal in
their filters to help remove
some of this material.
Next, if your aquarium
has a substrate; clean it
regularly with a siphon action
gravel washer. The gravel at

the bottom of an aquarium is a

good place for particulate
organic material to collect - so
getting rid of this material will
Getting rid of the
organic material on a regular
basis will go a long way
towards keeping an aquarium
healthy and keeping disease
away. So how often is a regular
That has to be decided
on an aquarium by aquarium
basis. If you have a lot of fish
and feed a lot you'll have to
clean the mechanical filter and
substrate more often than a
person with a few fish who feed
sparingly. The major way to get
rid of dissolved organic carbon
is water changes. This is a
simple method but most people
are a little lazy about this.
The people with
saltwater tanks are very
concerned about dissolved
organics. They use protein
skimmers, meters and control
devices for ORP, ozone, and
other things specifically made
to control the compounds.
People with freshwater
planted aquariums have the
added benefit that plants are
able to help with this by using
some of these organics. By
doing 50% water changes,
cleaning filters regularly, correct
fertilization, not overfeeding,
and doing all the necessary
maintenance involved helps to
promote a healthy aquarium.

MAY 2008 AquaScaping World